Rethinking My Idea of What it Means to Run

As With Most Things, Moderation is the Key

A Casual Jog With A Friend Can Be Just What the Doctor Ordered
“There is compelling evidence that running provides significant health benefits for the prevention of chronic diseases and premature mortality regardless of sex, age, body weight, and health conditions.” Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity

Until recently, my relationship with running resembled something out of a Shakespearean play. To run or not to run. That was the question.

You see running is my sport. I’ve been running ever since I was a child and as an adult have completed both the New York City and Munich marathons and various 5k, 10K, and half-marathon events. I even used to run in a New Year’s Eve Midnight fun run on a yearly basis.

Once I hit a certain age, however, I started hearing voices telling me about the hazards of running. “You really ought to stop running, you know. All of that jarring can’t be good for you at your age.” “ You have to be careful. You aren’t so young anymore.” And then I started seeing people whose injuries seemed to support such claims. These people, feeling quite young, would injure themselves playing soccer, rugby, tennis, or racing younger people and end up with injuries that left them sidelined for months on end.

Maybe not running was the right thing to do.

But, it’s so hard not to run when you feel the energy flowing through other people’s bodies when you see them run. I would be on my bike or walking and actually feel jealous of other runners. You know, like someone driving an old, beat up car and seeing the new model drive by. And when I ran myself, I felt so much better afterwards.

So, I started wondering, am I possibly shortening my lifespan by not running. Is it better for me to take my chances running? For me, the answer was yes, and I have continued to run.

As it turns out, in deciding to do so, I’ve made a healthy choice. According to information published in the article Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity (Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases)

“There is compelling evidence that running provides significant health benefits for the prevention of chronic diseases and premature mortality regardless of sex, age, body weight, and health conditions.”
“In general, runners have a 25%–40% reduced risk of premature mortality and live approximately 3 years longer than non-runners.”
Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity

But there’s a catch…

Running Does a Body Good, but Moderation May be the Key

“You only need to do 30 to 60 minutes a week to reap the benefits,…” Luisa Dillner, The Guardian

As I’ve continued running, I’ve adopted a new mindset as I’ve done with a lot of things as I’ve gotten older. I don’t eat as much meat as I used to. I eat dark instead of milk chocolate and I have adjusted the amount and speed of my runs to fit what feels good to my body.

Most importantly, I’ve let go of the fear of judgment by other runners.

No more trying to catch those who are ahead of me or trying to keep up with strangers running beside me. Many of them are way younger than me and are at a totally different level. And unless I’m training for a race, an easy jog will do.

I can continue to run. The key to doing it though, especially as you get older, is realizing that you don’t have to be the first to cross the finish line to reap the benefits. Running is running, no matter what the speed.

According to the study, this approach works just fine.

“Two of the authors of the review were also involved in a study published in 2014 that found a mere five to 10 minutes a day of running, at less than six miles an hour, reduced the risk of heart disease and early deaths from all causes.” Luisa Dillner, The Guardian

The study also looked at something that I have always suspected is true. Can one run too much for one’s own good? The conclusion?

“ It is too early to conclude that large amounts of running have adverse health effects. There is, however, benefit in providing a cut point for an effective and safe amount of running as a guide.” Running as a Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity

I always say that any exercise is better than none at all, but having tried a lot of different ones, I have to admit that running is still my true love. And knowing that it can increase my life span so that I have more years to spend with my loved makes it even more attractive.